Alitalia to be put up for sale in entirety

Indo Asian News Service

Rome, May 3 (IANS/AKI) Italy's failing flagship airline Alitalia will go on sale in two weeks time in a bid to find a buyer and prevent liquidation, Italy's Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda said on Wednesday.

"Within 15 days the commissioners will be open to expressions of interest," Calenda told Italian public radio. "For us the priority is the sale of the whole company," he told Radio Anch'io in an interview.

Calenda did not rule out the Italian state holding a future stake in the country.

"Any idea is welcome, but the important thing to bear in mind is that Alitalia needs an alliance with a big European group," Calenda said. "The problem is that its scale is too small."

With Alitalia losing around a million euros a day, finding a buyer will be a tough challenge, according to analysts.

In an interview with public broadcaster Rai on Wednesday, Italy's Infrastucture and Transport Minister Graziano Delrio warned of possible "drastic" cuts to Alitalia in the event a buyer was found for the airline.

The Italian cabinet on Tuesday approved a 600 million euro bridging loan to Alitalia for a maximum period of six months, until a buyer is found or a decision is taken to liquidate the company.